An arrow tattoo can be sweet and petite, or epic and larger than life.
Arrows have become popular for mini tats and single-line tattoos.
The arrow tattoo has different meanings depending on the culture, style, and type of design.
The arrow points in one direction and can show that we are heading somewhere in life.
Depending on where you are on your journey or with what you are struggling you may choose a different type of arrow tattoo.
They’re usually depicted in a minimalist tattoo style, but can be incorporated into larger more intricate pieces as well.
An arrow tattoo is something simple and readable that can be cute as a subtle finger tattoo or part of a larger mythological motif.
Portraits of archers are an especially powerful choice.
In most cultures, arrows have become more symbolic than anything else.
Not many people are using them as tools in the modern day.
But for a long time in history, they were a reliable way for skilled hunters to put food on the table.
Because of this, they’ve become a motif in myth, folklore, and even astrology.
If you’ve been thinking of getting an arrow tattoo, but aren’t sure where to start, you’ve come to the right place.
Arrow Tattoo Meanings
As we move through this article, you will find several amazing ideas for your arrow tattoo, each with its own significance.
Many cultures have their own interpretation of the arrow tattoo design, but, as with anything, there is some overlap.
Let’s break down some of the key symbolism behind arrow tattoos before diving further.
An arrow tattoo may symbolize:
- Life’s Journeys
- A New Start
- Triumph or moving through difficult times
- Strength/great reflexes
- Using tension to propel forward
- Setting goals
- Making alliances
Of course, there are a lot of factors that go into an arrow tattoo and its meaning.
You’ll have to consider style, placement, and what the design means to you personally.
The arrow tattoo ultimately represents one of life’s journeys, whether it be a terrible experience that you survived or an awesome experience you will always want to remember.
Courage means facing fear with confidence.
An arrow tattoo possesses this quality because arrows remind us of when they were used in war and for hunting.
It takes courage to face an enemy.
Arrow tattoos can represent starting over; they mean a fresh start and a new direction in life that they are pointing towards.
Triumph is part of the arrow’s symbolism because of its associations with the military.
An arrow tattoo means that you have won a significant battle.
Let’s break down some iconic arrow tattoo designs, and what they mean to the people who wear them!
Arrow Tattoo Meanings Across Cultures
From modern-day phenomena such as Bohemianism and Avicii music listeners to the rich cultures of the Aztec and Native Americans, arrow tattoos are strikingly meaningful tattoos.
Let’s take a look at what those meanings are:
- Chevron Arrow Tattoo Meaning
The chevron is a type of arrow tattoo with arrows stacked on top of each other all pointing in one direction.
Chevrons are used to represent varying ranks in the military.
The amount of chevrons arrows indicates that you are a sergeant, E-4 specialist, etc.
This tattoo also can simply mean loyalty and working hard for your country.
- Indian Arrow Tattoo Meaning
Arrow tattoo designs are often associated with Native American tribes.
Arrow tattoos with dream catcher tattoos or arrowheads can be symbols of Native American culture.
Arrows were vastly important to Native Americans during their past tribal lives.
These arrow tattoos symbolize what the arrowhead meant to Native Americans— protection and dominance in warfare.
Because many ancient Indigenous peoples were known for their keen hunting skills and relationship with nature, there is a common association between these peoples and the bow & arrow tattoos.
Some common arrow tattoo designs associated with Native American tribes are:
- An arrow tattoo facing left: ward off
- An arrow tattoo facing right: protection
- An arrow tattoo facing down: peace
- A broken arrow tattoo: peace, settling a feud
- A crossed arrow tattoo: an allyship
- An arrowhead: focus, staying focused
- Boho Arrow Tattoo Meaning
The Bohemian, or Boho tattoo is modern and cool, and so are arrow tattoos in this style.
It often has a more general meaning such as positivism or protection.
- Aztec Arrow Tattoo Meaning
Like the Native Americans, the Aztec arrow tattoo is one of the more meaningful tattoos.
It represents masculinity because of its relation to hunting and protection.
- Avicii Arrow Tattoo Meaning
The Avicii arrow tattoo is a minimalist tattoo of two thick arrows side by side.
Its symbolism lies in the song Wake Me Up, which describes struggling through darkness and starting fresh and new.
Main Themes in Arrow Tattoos
There are so many amazing arrow tattoo designs to choose from.
But where to begin?
An arrow is a very simple tattoo motif that can be added to other tattoo symbols to create a new meaning.
The arrow tattoo’s meaning is also defined by how many arrows are added to the tattoo, as we’ve discussed with military arrow tattoos.
We have compiled some great examples of meaningful tattoos using the arrow in their tattoo design:
Broken Arrow Tattoos
If you have a broken arrow tattoo, it means you have left something in the past that was important to you.
There are times in life where we have to make tough decisions to move on, and this represents that feeling.
Broken arrow tattoos are a symbol of peace, similar to burying the hatchet.
You’ve backed down, and want to move forward from a feud.
A great tattoo for a new chapter.
An arrowhead tattoo symbolizes a sense of focus and alertness, keeping your eyes on the prize.
Bow and Arrow Tattoos
The bow and arrow tattoo could be a symbol of your favorite archer from mythology.
It’s also a popular tattoo symbol for our Sagittarius friends.
Drawing from the Lakota teachings, this may be a nice way to symbolize two opposite factors coming together to achieve a goal- perhaps a business partnership.
A bow and arrow tattoo could also be a symbol for someone who identifies as two-spirited within the Indigenous community.
When the arrow is pulled back on the bow on a tattoo, it leads to the feeling of some tension you have in life.
Maybe you had sibling rivalry through your childhood that has affected your adult life.
On the other hand, if the arrow is released on a tattoo, it means an epiphany has happened and your mind has been released.
For example, you realized you needed to get out of an abusive relationship and after you left you were finally at peace.
Sagittarius Arrow Tattoos
The Sagittarius in the zodiac is a fire sign.
It is characterized by an outgoing nature, masculine boldness (regardless of gender), and emotional intelligence.
If you were born under this sign, celebrate it with an arrow Sagittarius tattoo!
Anchor & Arrow Tattoo Meaning
It is easy to visually see the meaning of an anchor and arrow tattoo– that’s how incredible its tattoo meanings are.
This tattoo represents the decision that you are anchored in your chosen path, and no one or nothing could stop you.
This is a powerful meaning for a tattoo because it means you have made a huge decision in life and never want to even look back.
For example, a former alcoholic may get this tattoo after deciding to get better and starting a new life of sobriety.
Arrow Bundle Tattoos
An arrow bundle tattoo means you’re locked and loaded, ready for any obstacle that comes your way.
- Three Arrows Tattoos
The three arrows tattoo design can be formed into many arrangements.
When it is designed as a bundle of arrows, it means strength because many arrows together are stronger than one.
Three arrows pointing together are often designed with Native American flare and can point towards one’s own Native American heritage.
5 Arrows Tattoos
Compass with Arrow Tattoos
The arrow and compass tattoo is another highly visual tattoo that means God or some higher power, if you happen to be religious or spiritual, is guiding you in the right direction.
You don’t need to worry, your beliefs will lead you on the correct path.
In this context, compass tattoos represent the material plane, everything tangible and concrete.
It is a popular motif to have an arrow run through a clock, a compass, or sometimes both.
A compass with an arrow tattoo could symbolize the ability to transcend time and space, and therefore the limitations you’ve put on yourself.
Arrow & Moon Tattoos
A crescent moon tattoo, like a bow, is an inherently feminine image.
An arrow and moon tattoo represents the divine masculine and feminine coming together.
It may also represent a deep connection to nature.
Feather Arrow Tattoos
The feather arrow tattoo can vary in meaning depending on which feather you choose.
Native American feathers are defined by eternal wisdom while Egyptian feathers are symbols of the gods.
A Christian feather represents hope.
Altogether, the feather arrow tattoo usually means triumph over a battle and independence as a result of it.
The goal in archery is to be light and quick.
A feather tattoo symbolizes lightness while an arrow tattoo symbolizes precision.
A feather arrow tattoo would be an excellent tattoo for an archer, or athlete who relies on nimble reflexes.
Flowers & Arrow Tattoos
Another masc/femme image, a flower arrow tattoo is an image that speaks to maintaining a balance between soft/vulnerable and keen/fierce.
Arrows & Animal Heads Tattoos
A popular traditional tattoo design, it can symbolize pre-eminence.
It could also be a symbol for a hunter who is proud of their abilities.
It is generally agreed among tattoo enthusiasts, however, that it is simply cool to put an arrow or dagger through anything.
Lettering Arrow Tattoos
Arrow Tattoos with Name Tattoos
Family Arrow Tattoos
Faith Arrow Tattoos
Heart & Arrow Tattoos
One common tattoo design is an arrow drawn back on a bow and pointed at a heart.
This tattoo means that you haven’t had much luck in love, and perhaps you’ve had your heart broken over and over again.
Many people choose a heart tattoo to represent their own heartache.
Love has been the topic of poetry, art, and literature since the beginning of human history.
Despite this fact, it remains a complicated concept that can leave people scratching their heads.
Getting an arrow and heart tattoo means that you’ve had your heartbroken, and it reminds you to never let yourself get hurt again.
Heart Shape Arrow Tattoos
The heart-shaped arrow tattoo means you are in the direction of love.
The love of your life is on your path, and you are determined to find him or her.
Some people make it a hopeful tattoo — they hope to find love on their path in life.
This can be a hopeful tattoo that you will find a partner one day.
A heart-shaped arrow tattoo is a symbol of intent: you’re on the path to love.
Others make the arrow look as if it’s pointing directly at their heart — they have already found love.
Crossed Arrow Tattoos
The tattoo of two arrows crossing each other is a common symbol for friendship and close ties to one another.
The arrows symbolize togetherness where they meet as if they are linked in the same path.
The crossed arrow tattoo is a representation of the timeless bond that exists between friends, family, and partners.
In this case, the tattoo of two arrows crossing each other symbolizes togetherness and unity.
The crossed arrow tattoo is perfect for couples who want to show the world how well they keep each other grounded as they face any challenges ahead.
Usually, this particular design is done in black and grey ink only, with a minimalist approach, making the tattoo design both visually impressive and easy to read.
Infinity Arrow Tattoos
The infinity tattoo represents never giving up, and when added to the arrow, this tattoo means you are unstoppable.
Right when someone knocks you down, you get right up.
Alternatively, an infinity arrow tattoo can refer to the reincarnation of one’s spirit going in one direction, the direction of the infinity symbol.
For those who are Buddhist, this could be a great symbol of your faith in the eternal life of the soul.
Semicolon Arrow Tattoos
Morse Code Arrow Tattoos
Green Arrow Tattoo Meaning
The color green can stand for progress and even rebirth.
The green arrow tattoo means that you are making progress along your journey.
It is a symbol of moving on, letting go of the past, and learning from it.
Diamond & Arrow Tattoo Meaning
When an arrow tattoo is in the shape of a diamond it symbolizes toughness and masculinity, since diamonds are hard gemstones.
This tattoo can also represent courage in the face of disaster.
Mountain & Arrow Tattoo Meaning
This tattoo is yet another arrow tattoo design that means you are attaining progress on your journey.
The mountain symbolizes strength and perseverance, while the arrow shows that you have direction.
Just as if your climbing up a steep mountain, the arrow leads you forward to keep going even if it is a tough climb.
Arrow Tattoo Designs
It is important to remember that different tattoo styles of arrow tattoos can affect their meanings.
An arrow tattoo design is versatile and beautiful.
Here are some of the most popular styles of arrow tattoos:
- Black-work Arrow Tattoos
- Fine Line Arrow Tattoos
- American Traditional Arrow Tattoos
American traditional tattoos are often bold.
The arrow tattoo, done in an American traditional style, often relates itself back to the Native Americans; these tattoos are commonly arrowheads.
These arrowheads sometimes even have teepees depicted inside.
This meaningful tattoo resembles extreme courage and pride in one’s heritage.
- Illustrative Arrow Tattoos
- Abstract Arrow Tattoos
- Sketchy Arrow Tattoos
- Stick & Poke Arrow Tattoos
- Watercolor Arrow Tattoos
- Neo-traditional Arrow Tattoos
- Geometric Arrow Tattoos
- Tribal Arrow Tattoo Meaning
The tribal arrow tattoo is often a black inked band wrapping around someone’s arm or a shape filled with tribal arrow patterns.
These tribal tattoos mean courage and emphasize the inner strength of a person.
- Celtic Arrow Tattoos
Arrow Tattoo Ideas
- Simple Arrow Tattoos
Minimalist and simple arrow tattoos are some of the trendiest tattoos out there.
However, they aren’t to be written off as a fad.
These tattoos will last decades because they are meaningful tattoos.
They represent the courage to move on and face your battles even when they seem impossible.
- Small Arrow Tattoos
- Single Arrow Tattoo Meaning
Single arrow tattoos are meaningful tattoos representing independence, courage, and fortitude.
Typically a small tattoo behind the neck or on the upper arm, this tattoo means you have the power to defend yourself as well as your loved ones around you.
- Two Arrow Tattoo Meaning
One common design of two arrows in a tattoo is one where they point away from each other.
This means war, or battling in life against something.
The two arrow tattoo is an aggressive tattoo meant to refer to either actual combat or another hostile event in your life.
- Arrow Bracelet Tattoos
Arrow Tattoo Placement
- Arrow Finger Tattoos
- Arrow Forearm Tattoos
- Arrow Wrist Tattoos
- Arrow Tattoos on Foot
- Arrow Tattoos on Ribs
- Arrow Limb Tattoos
Celebrities With Arrow Tattoos
Tattoos are all the rage in show business, especially micro designs.
While it used to be a big no-no for performers, especially actors, to have tattoos- more and more of Hollywood’s elite are getting tattoos.
After all, part of being an actor is being an artist, and the artist will always yearn to express themselves and their individuality.
An arrow tattoo is popular among celebrities because it is rich in artistic symbolism, and because it works for a simplistic design.
Smaller, simple tattoos are easy to cover with makeup if an actor has to become a different person on set.
Here are some of our favorite celebrity tattoos:
- Lili Reinhart
One of the reasons why fans connect with this star from Riverdale and Hustlers is her ability to be candid about difficult subject matter.
Before landing her role in Riverdale, she had moved to Los Angeles to pursue acting full time.
Feeling overwhelmed, her mental health issues kept her from getting farther in her career.
Before going home to take some time off, she visited Dr. Woo, an artist known for tattooing famous bodies.
Reinhart chose an arrow because it uses tension to propel itself forward.
It has to be pulled back before soaring into the air, a symbol that sometimes what feels like a setback can be exactly what you need.
Turns out, the arrow (a simple design on her forearm) was a perfect tattoo for the young rising star.
She took time to rest and heal from her anxiety, then returned to Los Angeles stronger than ever before.
She auditioned for Riverdale and landed it, propelling her into stardom.
An interesting tidbit- Reinhart’s mother on Riverdale is played by Mädchen Amick, who also has an arrow tattoo.
Their tattoos are, in fact, in the exact same place and applied by the same artist.
Amick’s tattoo is to symbolize her zodiac sign, Sagittarius.
- Anthony “Ant” McPartlin
Across the pond from Lili Reinhart, this British presenter also has an arrow tattooed on his forearm.
Fans were surprised to see the star tatted up after returning to television in 2019 after a stint in rehab.
He has never been one to shy away from exposing his inner demons and has other tattoos that mark his desire to stay clean.
When asked about the arrow tattoo, McPartlin has said only that it has a very positive and personal meaning.
One wonders if he is following the same philosophy as Reinhart: seeing his time away from the spotlight as a way to move forward with momentum.
- Frances Bean Cobain
So nice she did it twice.
This graphic artist, known for being the daughter of Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love, has 2 tattoos with an arrow motif.
Cobain’s tattoos are all different styles, but she sticks to small designs in classic black and grey.
Crossed arrows on her upper limb: Crossed arrows can be a sign of allegiance, so they make a popular friendship tattoo.
Frances Bean got hers in 2016 while on a trip to Vegas for her 24th birthday.
Her friends also got inked and the gang took in a Britney Spears show.
Is there any better way to celebrate turning the big 2-4?
Intricate stick and poke on her wrist: The delicate arrow design on Cobain’s wrist is a little more esoteric.
The stick and poke tattoo, applied by L.A. artist Tati Compton, has an air of sacred geometry to it.
Compton’s images tend to conjure feelings of divine femininity and sacred sensuality.
With Cobain’s Instagram handle being @thespacewitch- maybe there is some occult symbolism behind the design, but neither artist nor canvas has spoken of it.
That’s the beauty of a great tattoo- the meaning can stay between you and your artist.
- January Jones
Another Dr. Woo design, this multifaceted actress decided to pay tribute to her son Xander with a light arrow tattoo on her forearm.
The piece features overlapping circles, their birth-dates, and an arrow moving through the middle of them both.
This symbolizes their separate timelines, and how their love/familial bond has tied them together.
- Stephanie Branco and Sarah Hyland
In 2015, Modern Family’s Sarah Hyland and comedian/actress Stephanie Branco got coordinating arrow tattoos.
The deed was done at West Hollywood’s Shamrock Social Club with artist Max Hanson.
The two arrow designs are different, and in different places on the young women’s bodies.
Hyland’s design is a thin, delicate arrow with a large fletching on the end.
The tattoo design runs up the petite actress’s spine, presumably so she could be discreet on her sitcom gig.
Branco’s tattoo is more visible, just above her wrist.
Her design features an eye in the center of her arrow’s shaft.
Not much has been said about the symbolism behind the tattoos, but maybe it was more about the friendly escapade than the designs themselves.
Arrow tattoos naturally point in one direction.
Therefore, they represent that you are on a path that you will need courage for, on which you may need to find a new start and one you will ultimately triumph over.